LCC in Hackney meeting 6th August 1997

Apologies from Patrick, Harry, Claire

In attendance: Keith, Dave B., Douglas, Simon, Trevor, Dermot, Martin, Cathi, John T. and Vicky.

Topics discussed:
1. Report from Stoke Newington Neighbourhood Committee
2. Clissold Park
3. Stratford public enquiry
4. Website
5. Broadgate area traffic study
6. Hackney Council reorganisation
7. Camden Council’s Draft Green Transport Strategy
8. Newsletter
9. Cycle Activists’ Camp
10. Queensbridge Road
11. Workshop
12. Cycle Centre
13. Any other business

1. Report from Stoke Newington Neighbourhood Committee

a) The temporary gates on Wilburforce Road and Finsbury Park Road where they cross Brownswood Road will be made permanent and will contain cycle gaps. The meeting decided to ask at the next Cycle Liaison meeting if the Council can please paint some markings around the gates to deter blocking motor vehicles.

b) There are proposals to do something about Stoke Newington Church Street. The idea is to have restrictions on motor traffic Monday to Saturday – buses would still be allowed through, and deliveries could be made at limited times. There are two options being floated at the moment. Option one is to treat the whole length of Church Street in this way. Option two is to treat just a short section between Defoe Road and Lordship Road. It appears that these options are being presented as the extremes of what’s possible, in order to test the local feeling. Dave Bracken ventured that the driving force behind option one is actually London Buses, who would like to be able to save money by running one-person operated buses along this route but can’t at present because of congestion (except on Sundays). We certainly wouldn’t like to see the end of conductor-accompanied buses because of a good initiative like this.

It was agreed that it was up to us and those in sympathy with us to respond with sensible ideas for consideration. Simon suggested that we work on a range of solutions. We should consider what our vision for Church Street is as a whole. Douglas felt that even ten metres of the street treated in this way would be good, as it would deter through motor traffic and be a step on the road to bicycle heaven. Option two would be better if it was slightly extended at each end to cover Defoe Road and Lordship Road, discouraging through motor traffic via these streets too.

The needs of restaurants were discussed. At present they get quite a bit of car-borne custom, but many people arrive by other means as well, and there would be great benefits to the restaurants from an improved environment in the street. Apparently, the Raza restaurant did a survey of their customers recently to find out postal district of origin. 40% came from N16 and 60% from elsewhere, mostly from neighbouring postal districts but also some from further afield. The Raza has a high, London-wide profile, so the proportion from the local area in other restaurants is probably greater still. There is also the proposed reduction of the blood alcohol limit for motorists to take into account, which will further discourage customers from coming by car.

It was decided that Douglas and others should discuss this with Robbie at The Fox Reformed wine bar – (he’s chair of the traders’ association and prime mover of motor traffic control in Church Street) – and also with other local interest groups.

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2. Clissold Park

a) The Clissold House Trust are conducting a public consultation to discover what uses people would like to see for Clissold House (the big house in the middle of the park), and they sent us a questionnaire. We approved most of their suggestions, which include good toilets, a restaurant/cafe, restful facilities for older park users, rooms for hire, etc. We added that they could maybe have a bike maintenance facility in the building!

b) Dave B. goes to the Clissold Park Users Group, and reminded the meeting of the value of attending groups such as these to put the cyclist’s perspective where it might otherwise be lacking. At the most recent meeting, when someone was complaining about cyclists in the park (not an unheard-of occurrence), a rather unusual thing happened. The parks manager for Hackney, Laurence Flaveley, who was in attendance, suggested that perhaps the thing to do would be to provide some official routes for bikes around the park, which might defuse the problem to a certain extent.

Everyone (at our meeting!) agreed that this is a good idea, and Mr Flaveley should be encouraged. Dermot said the he had some sympathy with the elderly complainant at the park users’ meeting, since he has seen irresponsible behaviour by cyclists in the park. A discussion about shared use then ensued. Douglas suggested that we think about putting together a code of practice for shared use, perhaps in consultation with the Pedestrians Association. (The PA is historically antipathetic to cyclists, but perhaps this is the time to build bridges). We should check whether this is already being promoted, e.g. by Sustrans with their encouragement of cyclists to fit a bell. Martin sounded a cautionary note, warning that this sort of thing could just add to the cyclist-bashing climate. All agreed that our aim should be continually to encourage and reward responsible cyclists, which will eventually help to promote the culture of tolerance and mutual respect.

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3. Stratford public enquiry

As was mentioned at July’s meeting, there are plans to build a huge park-and-ride at Stratford for the Eurostar. It would have 3000 spaces for cars. The meeting reaffirmed our opposition to this, on the grounds of motor traffic generation. [Crispin mentioned that the proponents suggest that most of the motor traffic would be coming from the east of the development.] We will be making a submission to the public enquiry, probably headed by Patrick Field. There will be a pre-enquiry meeting at 10am on 2nd September at Duncan House, University of East London, High Street, Stratford, London E15, at which the shape of the enquiry will be discussed and determined.

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4. Website

The London Cycling Campaign in Hackney website is online (http://www.hackney-cyclists.org.uk). Input is encouraged. Cathi will supply the newsletter for the website. It was also suggested that she could combine this work with providing the borough news section for the London Cyclist magazine, to which she generously assented. Trevor raised the question of open access to information – whether or not we should be limiting access to information such as minutes of meetings to the membership only. The meeting favoured open access.

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5. Broadgate area traffic study

There is presently a public consultation on the extension of the City of London’s ‘Traffic and Environmental Zone’ northwards to include Broadgate. Two options are proposed, both involving varying degrees of inconvenience to cycle traffic. (The matter is discussed at length on the website). The meeting decided that Option B was the lesser of two evils, but that we should suggest modifications so that all streets are still two-way for cycles, either with contraflow lanes or appropriate anti-motor vehicle junction treatments. It was also decided that we will mail out a consultation leaflet to every Hackney LCC member as a matter of urgency.

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6. Hackney Council reorganisation

The present reorganisation is causing confusion and paralysis, it was suggested. Hackney Agenda 21 has been disenfranchised in the process.

Douglas proposed that since many of the new executive directors do not know the borough, we should invite them out on bikes and show them round, as a kind of extension to Project Modal Shift. Everyone thought this a smashing idea, and Douglas will write to those already in place.

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7. Camden Council’s Draft Green Transport Strategy

Camden have brought out a very impressive document dealing with many aspects of transport policy in the borough. Douglas wonders why this is not yet happening in Hackney. Crispin said he’d look into it!

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8. Newsletter

Cathi asked members to submit stories for inclusion in the September/October London Cyclist. Please get them to her by the end of this month at the latest.

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9. Cycle Activists’ Camp

Bristol Cycling Campaign are organising a camp for 100 cycle activists in deepest Gloucestershire. It sounds wonderful from the description given. Lots of good events and ideas. It runs from 14th-17th August. Better be quick about signing up if you want to. No phone number given. Send SAE to Peter Lang, Green & Away, PO Box 40, Malvern WR14 1YS if you would like to go. Douglas is thinking of going.

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10. Queensbridge Road

Douglas says that he hears an emergency stop being made by a speeding motorist at least once an hour when he’s in his surgery. A 12-year-old lad was knocked down on a crossing recently. Motors go too fast, and should be restrained.

The fact that Queensbridge Rd is now a recommended cycle route is considered rather strange in the circumstances. Some people suggested using speed cushions at appropriate places, but others thought that this would not be acceptable because this road is an important route for emergency vehicles. We thought that a possible solution would be to narrow the wider sections of the road to one lane each way, wide enough to accommodate bikes and motor vehicles side by side in comfort, possibly with a bike lane painted in. We will raise this at the Cycle Liaison meeting in September.

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11. Workshop

Martin reported that the workshop is still doing well and generally looking after itself. Finance is OK. Darren at Chain Gang passes on bits and pieces to us, which is nice of him. We could always do with more mechanically-minded people to supervise the sessions. Simon said that the Hackney Community Transport furniture recycling project people were talking about a bike recycling project. Martin has deep reservations about this kind of idea. He explained that, from his experience, this type of project consumes vast amounts of time, labour, space and money. Often the bike parts to be rebuilt are of poor quality and scarcely worth working with, and they usually require the addition of new components which are expensive. Martin pointed out that Arch 107 in Pancras Road, Kings Cross, are already fulfilling this function in a successful commercial (if low-rent) way. Cathi suggested that we should encourage the exchange of information among the membership about spare bikes and bits. We could do this by having a noticeboard in the newsletter and on the website.

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12. Cycle Centre

No progress. Douglas is still keen on a City fringe site, with inputs from all sorts of people, e.g. commuters, ex-offenders as trainee mechanics, etc. Martin reminded us that there could be a good spin-off for the Hackney Central junction from setting up the cycle centre there, but Crispin cautioned that a spin-off isn’t reason enough in itself. Keith said that there is a scheme floating about for a vehicle pooling scheme in the Shoreditch area, which could include non-motor vehicles too.

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13. Any other business

Cathi had a couple of dates for our diaries:

30th August – ‘Tame the Traffic’, a day of action (whatever you like) in support of the Road Traffic Reduction Bill. [We noted that this bill is wrongly named – should be ‘motor traffic reduction bill’.]

27th September – ‘Fuming Mad’ rally a Friends of the Earth do in Trafalgar Square

Dalston South development. The detailed plans are in for Chelverton Properties’ Cineworld/Carparkworld. The developers’ concession to detailed objections from numerous groups and individuals is to add an extra road to the scheme. Make your objections by 14th August.

A Community Information Database has been launched for the City and Hackney. It was agreed that we would like to be included in it.